It can be frustrating when you expect your period, and then it never shows up. It is natural to worry if something is wrong and maybe even schedule a visit to your OBGYN. It may come as a surprise, but it is actually relatively common for you to miss or skip a period once in a while. Major life events such as trauma, rapid weight loss, pregnancy, or changes in birth control may affect your periods. Let's dive deeper into what may cause a missed period and what you can do to help yourself prepare for your next period.
Is it normal to miss a period?
A day or two or even three passes, and you start to wonder if your period will come. Fortunately, you are not alone. It is very common to miss a period or two once in a while. Throughout the month, our bodies rise in hormones to ovulate. When an egg is not fertilized, our bodies decrease in hormones, and we begin our period. Once in a while, we experience an imbalance of hormones that may cause us not to ovulate.
How much delay of periods is normal?
If you have a regular cycle between 21 and 35 days long, you should expect your period shortly after. However, if you are four days past your predicted period start date, then it may be a reason for concern.
Most common reasons why your period is late
Fluctuations in body weight
Normal fluctuations in your body weight, such as working out or having slightly larger meals once in a while, may not cause a missed period. However, extreme or quick weight fluctuations may cause a hormonal imbalance. When there are extreme caloric restrictions, your body does not produce the precise amount of reproductive hormones needed for ovulation because your brain is not providing information to produce those hormones to your endocrine system.
Our menstrual cycles require the perfect balance of hormones to have a period. Unfortunately, when you are experiencing an abundant amount of stress, your menstruation does not function how it should or needs to. Your body's natural response to stress is to exhibit the fight or flight mode. As a result, certain hormones are suppressed because your mind needs to conserve energy to focus on your stress responses. Therefore, your body may not ovulate as it should, and you will miss your period.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries produce an excess amount of androgens. Androgens are primarily male sex hormones that women carry but only in limited quantities. When Androgens are higher than needed, cysts are formed in the ovaries.
Hormonal Birth control
Birth control provides many benefits, such as lighter periods, decreased acne, regular periods, and reduced menstrual cramps. However, depending on your birth control, you may experience missed or delayed periods. The birth control pill may take a few months for your hormones to adjust and regulate your cycle. Thus, it results in a few missed periods. Other birth control methods, such as an IUD, an implant, the shot, patch, and ring, may cause you not to have periods.
Perimenopause commonly begins for some women in their mid to late 30s. However, most women do not start until their early to mid 40s. Perimenopause marks the beginning stages of menopause and typically lasts around four to five years. Perimenopause may be frustrating for some women to experience because their periods become less predictable, and they may skip a month and then have a period the next. In addition, periods are often lighter or heavier than you may have experienced in the past.
Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop working and no longer ovulate. As your ovaries cease to function correctly, there will be a decrease in estrogen. This is because your body is no longer producing the amount it used to.
Symptoms of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Hot and cold flashes
- Inability to get pregnant
- Decreased sex drive
Thyroid related issues
The thyroid is a gland in the back of your neck that produces thyroid hormones released into your bloodstream. Unfortunately, 1 in 8 women may develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. Thyroid-related issues cause two most common conditions, Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may cause your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body requires. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include increased metabolism and heart rate. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hot flashes
- Lighter menstrual bleeding
- Absent menstrual period.
Hypothyroidism is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when your body cannot produce the amount of thyroid hormone your body may need. The decrease in thyroid hormone may cause your body not to function as optimally as necessary. Therefore, your metabolism, for example, may not work as fast. Other signs of hypothyroidism may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual weight gain
- Unexplained depression
- Lack of sleep
- Thinning of hair
- Slow heart rate
- Swelling in the face
- Absent period
While some pregnancies are planned, others are not. So, missing a period may surprise you. But, if you miss your period and your cycles are usually regular and predictable, it may be time to take a pregnancy test. However, pregnancy tests may not detect pregnancy on the first day of your missed period. So, try to wait at least a week before testing for pregnancy. Taking a pregnancy test too soon may result in a false negative.
If your periods are not usually regular and predictable, it may be more challenging to determine the first day of your missed period. If this is the case, it may be beneficial to take several pregnancy tests. In addition, you may find it helpful to contact your general physician for a blood test to test for pregnancy.
While exercising has proven benefits, working out too much may pose risks to your menstrual cycles. Athletes and bodybuilders are most at risk due to their strenuous workout routines. In addition, if you take a break from working out and resume exercise excessively, you may notice your period is irregular or skipped altogether.
When to see a doctor
If your periods have always been irregular or inconsistent, it may not be cause for concern to see your general physician. However, here are some reasons why you should see your doctor:
- Your periods suddenly become unpredictable
- Your period occurs more than once a month or more often than every 28 to 35 days
- You are struggling to get pregnant
- You have heavy periods
- Your periods last longer than seven days
Shop Proof® Period Underwear
When your periods are unpredictable, preparing for them can be more challenging. Having a period kit available in your backpack or bag may help eliminate the stress and mess caused by your period surprising you.
Proof® period underwear is the perfect item to have in your period kit. Not only are period underwear Leak Proof®, but they are also discrete. One pair of period underwear may hold up to 4 regular tampons.
It is important to understand that only you set the standard for what is considered a normal or regular period for you. Every woman's body is unique and so are your menstrual cycles. Always reach out to your general care physician if you are concerned about the changes in your cycle.